Stablemates set to clash at Sandown

One has excelled over a shorter trip while the other has won Australia’s longest race and in the Crisp Steeplechase at Sandown they meet over middle ground.

Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained stablemates Stern Idol and Rockstar Ronnie will be vying for honours when they line up against nine other opponents over 4200m on Sunday.

The pair has met only once when Rockstar Ronnie took out Australia’s longest race, the Grand Annual Steeplechase (5500m) at Warrnambool in May.

Stern Idol failed to complete the course when retired from the race with one jump left to negotiate in which his rider Steve Pateman said he failed to run the trip.

Both horses have raced once since.

Rockstar Ronnie was a close second over 3450m at Warrnambool on July 2 while Stern Idol strolled to a 20-length win at Pakenham on July 16.

Maher’s brother Declan prepares the two jumpers from the stable’s Ballarat base.

Eustace said Declan had been happy with the pair in their preparations for Sunday’s race.

The 4200m of Sunday’s contest is possibly at the outer limits of Stern Idol’s stamina according to Eustace.

“He didn’t stay in the Annual, it’s as plain and as simple as that,” Eustace said.

“He’s a very brilliant horse over jumps and I think the trip on Sunday is going to be about his limit.”

Eustace said Rockstar Ronnie was very brave in his Warrnambool defeat last start and will have no problems running out the extra distance.

Rockstar Ronnie is on a path to the Grand National Steeplechase at Ballarat on August 27.

“His run at Warrnambool was very good. He was very brave. He dug in and came through it well,” Eustace said.

“He’s on a path to Ballarat.”

One thing Eustace does not want to see is the two stablemates racing each other for the entire 4200m journey as both horses are front runners.

“We’ll see who makes the pace,” Eustace said.

“It will probably come down to who gets out of the barriers best.”

About RS NewsWire

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